Glenn Miller's Connection to New Haven
In 1943 and 1944, Glenn
Miller made personal appearances in New Haven and also in
East Hartford, Hartford, Meriden, Middletown, New London,
Norwalk, Stamford, Wallingford and Westville.
Glenn Miller and his orchestra performed
in New Haven from March 27, 1943 to June 19, 1944. He made
personal appearances at War Bond Drives on the New Haven Green,
enlisted men's dances at Yale, a War Bond Drive in Woolsey
Hall (May 31, 1943), New Haven Airport, an AAF Recruiting Show
at the Shubert Theater (June 23, 1943), a wedding in one of
Yale's chapels, the Yale Bowl, on the Old Campus, the Roger
Sherman Theater, the New Haven Arena, Loew's Pole Theater,
the Yale Drama School Theater, and Eagle Hall.
C. Williams, 2002
The Glenn Miller Orchestra's
very first concert in Woolsey Hall was on May 29, 1943. The
orchestra, or band, was activated on March 20, 1943, with
its permanent station at Yale University. Its first official
name was The 418th Army Air Forces Band and was also known
as "the Yale Band," Glenn Miller's Band, the "I
Sustain the Wings" Band, and the AAF Radio Band.
The group settled down
on Temple Street and rehearsed both military and dance music.
They played during many cadet luncheons in Woolsey Hall.
A fair number of local residents who are 'of a certain age'
remember listening to the band's rehearsals while they stood
on the sidewalks outside its rehearsal hall as well as watching
the band march to the New Haven Green. Many can also recall
listening to the band's Saturday night radio broadcasts from
Glenn Miller's Memorial Gravestone in New Haven's Grove Street
On December 13, 1998, Peter
Cofrancesco (a local resident and Glenn Miller devotee),
with help from some of his friends, held a memorial service
in Grove Street Cemetery for Major A. Glenn Miller to remember
his disappearance on December 15, 1944, when his plane went
down over the English Channel.
Over ten years ago, Mr.
Cofrancesco began collecting photos, recordings, trombones,
and other Miller memorabilia. Some of the mementos have been
loaned to museums. He tracked down surviving Miller band
musicians such as Sal Libro and Paul Tanner. Today, Peter
Cofrancesco continues to introduce young people to the excitement
and fun of swing dancing and the "Glenn Miller" sound.
Mr. Cofrancesco's strong
feelings about Glenn Miller's connections to Connecticut
and especially to New Haven led him to invest his own money
to buy a Grove Street Cemetery plot as well as a
black granite gravestone to commemorate the impact of the
well-known band leader on the New Haven community during
World War II.
On the day of the memorial
service, the sky was overcast and the cemetery chilly. But
a crowd gathered. A bugler called the group to attention
and Joel Schiavone emceed the sentimental ceremony. After
a rendition of taps wafted through the cemetery on the sharp
December air , the Paul King Orchestra played several Miller
hits. There were many misty eyes during their final rendition, " Moonlight